Friday, January 19, 2018

Using tape measure and ruler phone apps for wargames?

I've downloaded some tape measuring apps on my phone just to see how it works, and I had a sudden thought.. will this be useful on crowded miniatures wargaming table?

Last week for instance, I had a very crowded Terminator battlefield,  (as discussed here)

Terminator Genisys battle

and sometimes my friend Jim and I's stubby fingers were a bit too much for the crowded terrain when trying to move troops. What if we could just point with our phones to get the exact distance?

Using an app called Airmeasure, you can seemingly just point your phone camera and measure, as the App's YouTube demo depicts..

I tried a simple experiment.. I put a mini and a bit of terrain 34 inches apart (a random measurement)

Standing behind the mini, I then measured it with the app but only got 20 inches..

Okay, maybe I was doing it wrong..

 I tried it again, and put my phone directly over the tape and got about 32 inches..

I tried it again, this time going slower, and got 33 inches...

Hmm.. I can see the power gamers, rules lawyers and munchkins squawking loudly in tournaments about this 1 inch discrepancy..

I tried it again, this time with terrain only 8 inches away.

and the app measured 7 1/8 inches..

Close, but I can still see fistfights over this in tournaments..

In my last experiment, I put the two pieces 5 inches apart at an angle, with the intention of measuring both for a total of 10 inches.

I measured to the first waypoint, and yes, the app measured 5 inches..

but the app would not let me continue to measure within the white circle, so I started from the 6 inch mark.

This meant that I should get just 4 inches to the other piece of terrain. I got 4 inches for a total of 10 inches.

Overall, I would conclude that the technology is starting to get there, but not quite there for the satisfaction of most gamers, I suspect.

At the moment, it's easier and perhaps less lazy than just going old school and take the tape measure out. Like, physically.


  1. Very interesting and well done experiment. Thank you!

  2. As an old survey officer it strikes me that the one thing they probably can't program adequately into the app is angle of site. I suspect that you can't get a phone camera to work for this unless it starts at a fixed height from the horizontal to properly measure.